Fitness goals are perhaps the best form of maintaining motivation for exercise. Many of us strive through so much to reach them and believe the more we train, the better the results. However, the problem is, often this enthusiasm in training can mean we step beyond our capabilities, which is where the body is exposed to more training, or stress, than it can recover from.
When experienced in the short term, taking a few additional days or up to two weeks rest typically leads to the appropriate recovery and adaptation. When the body is not exposed to the rest it needs however, overtraining syndrome can occur, which is a much more serious condition that can take months to recover from.
Overtraining can be defined as constant intense training that does not provide adequate time for recovery. While it can at times be obvious when we’re overtraining, this may not always be the case. Some symptoms are actually a little difficult to identify. In order to ensure we can maintain our training frequency and standard, we should try to recognize the early onset symptoms of overtraining so we can learn how to avoid them and remain on track with our fitness goals.
What to watch out for:
- Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
- Mild leg soreness, general aches and pains
- Pain in muscles and joints
- Sudden drop in performance
- Decreased immunity (increased number of colds, and sore throats)
- Decrease in training capacity/intensity
- Moodiness and irritability
- Loss of enthusiasm for the activity
- Decreased appetite
- Increased incidence of injuries
Here are some tips to avoid overtraining to ensure we uphold our performance and deliver our best results:
- Keep fluids up and remain hydrated, especially in warmer climates
- Increase volume and intensity of training gradually, not suddenly
- Keep track of nutrition habits to ensure a well-balanced diet is being maintained
- Meditate to remain centred and decrease stress levels
- Track workouts to maximise fitness and limit the risk of injury
- Rest and recover
- Address work/rest balance for future training
The key is to listen to our bodies, get in tune with the signs and signals and work out how to balance training with all the other elements of our life. And when you have a goal in mind, ensure you don’t push your body beyond its limitations just to get there. If it means slightly altering those goals, then your body will thank you for it.
Now that you’re equipped to spot the most common signs of overtraining – train hard, train smart and train with purpose.